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Keywords:

  • hydrogels;
  • implant;
  • polymer blends

Abstract

Injectable hydrogel formulations that undergo in situ gelation at body temperature are promising for minimally invasive tissue repair. This work focuses on the investigation of injectable poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) mixtures. The injectable PVA–PEG aqueous solutions form a hydrogel as temperature is reduced to near body temperature, while filling a defect in the injection site. Gamma sterilization of these solutions compromises injectability presumably due to crosslinking of PVA. We hypothesized that by modifying the PEG molecular weight and its concentration, injectability of radiation sterilized PVA–PEG hydrogels can be optimized without compromising the mechanical properties of the resulting gel. The use of a bimodal mixture of higher and lower molecular weight PEG (600 and 200 g/mol) resulted in lower PVA/PEG solution viscosity, better injectability, and higher gel mechanical strength. The PVA/bimodal-PEG had a lower viscosity at 2733 ± 149 cP versus a viscosity of 5560 ± 278 cP for PVA/unimodal-PEG (400 g/mol). The gel formed with the bimodal PEG mixture had higher creep resistance (61% total creep strain under 0.5 MPa) than that formed with unimodal PEG (84%). These hydrogel formulations are promising candidates for minimally invasive tissue repair. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2012